A new body will oversee the qualifications sat by teenagers in Wales from September 2015, the education minister said on 8 January 2013.
Leighton Andrews said he expected the business case to establish Qualifications Wales to be ready in the first half of the year.
He was updating AMs in the Senedd chamber on his plans to set up the organisation.
It follows a review of the qualifications taken by 14 to 19-year-olds last year.
The review said Wales should retain GCSEs after they are phased out in England, and recommended that exams should be regulated at arm's length from the Welsh government.
Critics attacked Mr Andrews when he used his regulatory powers last summer to order a re-grade of GCSE English papers.
Qualifications Wales would take away the minister's role in regulating exams.
The new body also puts a question mark over the future of the WJEC exam board.
Mr Andrews said he was discussing his plans with the board and with local council leaders.
Officials were looking at how a similar model of running the exam system had operated in Scotland.
Wales is part of a three-country system with England and Northern Ireland - something Mr Andrews said he wanted to maintain "where appropriate".
But he blamed the UK government for "undermining" the arrangements by making "unilateral" announcements about qualifications.
Read this in Welsh.